Rare films make it to big screen at festival

Hopkins to show intriguing, unusual

April 17, 2003|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Those in the opening night audience at this year's Johns Hopkins Film Festival may want to have their heads examined, but not by the two psychiatrists they'll be watching up there on the big screen.

Kicking off the sixth-annual festival tonight at 8 at Shriver Hall on the university's Homewood campus is Martin and Orloff, a comedy from New York's Upright Citizens Brigade about a suicidal promoter (he designs advertising costumes, like a giant hot dog for the opening of a wiener restaurant) who decides the time is right to see a psychiatrist. Too bad the doctor, who specializes in abusing his patients, turns out to be even more twisted than he is.

The film, finished last year, has been shown only rarely. Martin and Orloff has yet to find a distributor, perhaps because most of the people running the studios have never heard of the Upright Citizens Brigade (among the troupe's alumni is Saturday Night Live's Amy Poehler), or because they don't know what to make of it. Seeing it tonight could prove your chance to be in on the ground floor of the next big thing, or at least to say you've see some genuine cinema esoterica.

Things turn serious at 10 p.m. with a screening of the 1969 film Coming Apart, starring Rip Torn as a psychiatrist whose own life is fraying seriously at the edges. Using a hidden camera in his apartment, he films the various women who turn up there, some seeking psychiatric help, others pursuing a romantic tryst, some having no idea what they want (his visitors include Sally Kirkland and Viveca Lindfors). "Avant-garde, sexually daring, and over-the-top," says VideoHound's movie guide.

The festival continues in a similar vein through Sunday. Dozens of hard-to-see-elsewhere films will be shown, some in Shriver Hall, others in Gilman Hall, room 110. Outside of the occasional independent studio release (Japanese director Takashi Miike's Audition, one of the most disturbing films you'll ever want to experience, screens at 9:30 p.m. Saturday), most are amateur films or obscure documentaries or films by people who have yet to register on Hollywood's radar screens.

Among other potentially intriguing offerings are local filmmaker Dan Bell's Go-Go Motel (7:30 p.m. tomorrow, Shriver Hall), the story of a seedy strip club with more to it than one might expect; Magical Mushroom Hour (5:30 p.m. Saturday, Shriver) a program of shorts that promises everything from crazy transvestites to vegan porn; Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (11:30 p.m. Saturday, Shriver), which sounds pretty self-explanatory; and The Children of IBDA: To Create Something Out of Nothing (3 p.m. Sunday, Gilman), a documentary about a Palestinian children's dance troupe.

Admission is $3 per film, $5 for a daylong pass, $15 for an all-festival pass. Shows are free for Hopkins students, faculty and staff. Information: 410-235-4636 or www.jhu.edu/~jhufilm/fest.

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